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A polymer is a molecule made from the joining of many smaller molecules called monomers. The chemical reaction that joins the monomers together is called polymerization. Some polymers are natural while others are synthetic. Polymers can also be classified as homopolymers (all repeating units are identical) or heteropolymer (not all of the repeating units are the same).
Polyvinyl Alcohol is a synthetic homopolymer consisting of one single repeating unit, vinyl alcohol. When sodium borate is added to the polyvinyl alcohol the sodium borate dissolves to form boric acid and the boric acid then cross-links the polyvinyl alcohol chains. Cross-linking is a process in which the long polymer chains are linked to one another at various points along each chain. As more cross-linking occurs, the thicker the mixture becomes thicker.
You have likely experienced this phenomenon with popular “magic capsule” toys as well as detergent pods.
1. Pour 100ml 3% polyvinyl alcohol into a 250ml beaker (or similar).
2. Add 4-5 drops of fluorescent pink pigment to the polyvinyl alcohol and stir to mix. This step is simply to add color and a way to observe the chemical reaction that is about to happen.
3. Add about 5ml of 4% sodium borate. Slowly add the sodium borate 1-2 ml at a time (with the transfer pipette) to the beaker containing the polyvinyl alcohol while stirring. After all 5ml of sodium borate has been added, continue stirring for another 1-2 minutes.
4. Observe the consistency of the slime. Continue adding, in 1ml increments, more sodium borate until the slime reaches the desired consistency. Be sure to stir for 1-2 minutes after each addition of sodium borate.
5. Hit the lights and see your slime GLOW thanks to the fluorescent pigment you added in step #2.